García Pimienta‘s UD Las Palmas began the season in a worrying way, as they struggled badly to score a single goal. So much so that many people were already giving them up for dead since the start, especially when controversy erupted surrounding Jonathan Viera‘s departure.
In spite of being second to last in terms of goals scored, they also rank second among the teams that concede the least, only surpassed by Real Madrid. The reason behind these metrics has a lot to do with their manager.
The influence of the coach born in Barcelona in his team’s play is critical, as if we look at the data, it is clear that the islander team’s biggest weakness lies in their lack of goal-scoring ability. But, contrary to what their number of conceded goals may suggest, they are neither a defensive nor a conservative team, quite the opposite.
As a team, they are capable of holding possession of the ball, a virtue they frequently exploit to defend themselves. Of course they often lack dynamism or depth, mainly when their differential players talent-wise (a scarce resource in this roster) are not available.
As a result of their poor performance when it comes to scoring and that unique way of understanding the game, García Pimienta has turned UD Las Palmas into a well-oiled machine that like to control their matches through possession, and who are not favored by a fast pace contest against most teams.
The manager’s knowledge of the weaknesses of his attackers might help him avoid relegation with a very limited roster. This is clearly proven by the fact that the Canary side is only second to FC Barcelona in terms of average possession per game, a shocking metric.
García Pimienta’s crew:
The main protagonist of the team is its manager, there is no doubt about that, but there are many players among his crew who have a lot to do with the Canary being so far off the relegation positions at this stage of the season.
Jonathan Viera is probably the most differential talent of the team, as he has taken part in three of their 11 goals this campaign. However, the direction taken by Pimienta’s pupils would not be possible without Álvaro Vallés, Sergi Cardona, Mika Mármol or Kirian Rodríguez.
Vallés has been one of the best keepers in the division so far, making critical saves every match and keeping its team afloat in many occasions. He is regarded by many as the most important player on the team.
When it comes to Sergi Cardona, he is one of the revelations of this season at the full-back position. It is the case of a player with great touch as well as physically powerful, traits that allow him to cover a lot of the pitch, raising the interest of teams like Atlético de Madrid.
Mika Mármol arrived this season in Gran Canaria in a transfer from Andorra, and he has landed on his feet at García Pimienta’s system. A centre-back with magnificent ball-playing abilities who is proving that he can also win duels and be forceful, which has resulted in him becoming an extension of his coach on the field.
All the players listed above play defensive roles. However, in spite of the clear goal scoring limitations of UD Las Palmas, Kirian Rodríguez and Alberto Moleiro represent that small dose of game-defining talent in midfield. Kirian has already scored two goals this season and is proving that he has what it takes to play in the First Division.
About Moleiro, there was a lot of hype around him and we had to wait for his debut because of an injury, but in just four matches, he has proven many times that he is not your regular player. Most recently, a tremendous top bins goal against Osasuna.
For now, UD Las Palmas rank seventh in LaLiga with very clear ideas, strengthening their virtues and minimizing their weaknesses. As things stand right now, they should not have any problems to avoid relegation, but will it be enough to do it without suffering?
We will see how far the level of players like Moleiro, Kirian or Mármol goes and what ends up happening with Jonathan Viera.
Translated by Nuño Alonso.
Main image: @@UDLP_Oficial.